Australia’s highest profile Senator – and my fellow Queenslander – Barnaby Joyce makes his First Speech to the Senate this afternoon, around about 5.40pm. After the blanket media coverage he’s received, including many personal profiles, I’m not sure what new and unexpected things he can say, but no doubt there will be a lot of people listening. I’ll certainly be there.
There will also be two other First Speeches coming today. Russell Trood, the Queensland Liberal who together with Senator Joyce delivered control of the Senate to the Coalition, but has a rather lower profile, will also be speaking, followed by Glenn Sterle, a Labor Senator from WA who took the place of former Hawke Minister Peter Cook.
Senator Trood has been a lecturer and associate professor at Griffith University in Brisbane for most of the last 17 years, so he has a fair bit of experience in what univeristies are like in the modern era. I’d be interested in what he thinks of the government’s current obsession with preventing universities from charging services fees for students, although his specialty is international affairs, so I suspect the policy aspects of his speech will be mainly about that.
The speechfest starts from 5pm and will be broadcast on the Parliamentary News Network. If you can’t get the broadcast, you can see the Senate proceedings on the web – go to http://www.aph.gov.au/live/webcast3.asp (assuming your modem connection is good enough). There’s six more First Speeches to come tomorrow and Thursday, including the other new National Party Senator, Fiona Nash, who has a lower profile than Barnaby but seems to also be capable of independent thought.